The Attorney General’s Office has reinvigorated its environmental enforcement program, taking a number of bold actions to protect the state’s natural resources. In partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Attorney General’s Office has brought lawsuits against a range of polluters in the Garden State.
- Championing environmental justice for all of New Jersey’s communities. The Attorney General’s Office has launched a statewide “environmental justice” initiative, focusing on minority and lower-income communities that have historically suffered some of the worst environmental harms in the state. With DEP, the Attorney General’s Office has brought lawsuits against polluters across the state, including in Newark, Camden, Trenton, and Camden. As part of the initiative, the Office has also worked to protect rural communities that have witnessed environmental damage, including communities in Sussex, Warren, Cumberland, and Gloucester counties.
- Holding industrial polluters accountable. The Attorney General’s Office has cracked down on large corporations that have polluted New Jersey and then refused to clean up their mess. Since 2018, the Office has brought lawsuits across the state against DuPont, ExxonMobil, 3M and other corporations that operated industrial plans in New Jersey over the past century and left behind toxic chemicals. During that time, the Attorney General’s Office has filed ten so-called “natural resource damages” lawsuits, after more than a decade in which no such cases were brought in New Jersey.
- Protecting New Jersey’s coastline from offshore drilling. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Interior announced plans to allow oil drilling along the Atlantic Coast, even though the federal government had previously recognized that such drilling would threaten both the environment and the coastal economy. The Attorney General’s Office challenged those plans every step of the way, suing to block seismic testing of potential drilling locations and demanding answers from the federal government about why Florida received an exemption from the offshore drilling expansion but New Jersey did not. In early 2019, after several key legal developments, the federal government announced that it would abandon its drilling plans along the New Jersey coast.
- Cracking down on illegal dumping. With DEP, the Attorney General’s Office has pursued individuals and companies that illegally dump garbage on public and private lands. As part of this effort, the State has brought lawsuits to shut down illegal dumps in Vernon Township (Sussex County) and Plumsted Township (Ocean County), and have filed criminal charges against an individual who allegedly operated an illegal dump under a highway in Newark.
- Keeping illegal pipelines out of New Jersey. In recent years, a number of private companies have sought to build natural gas pipelines across New Jersey in ways that violate state and federal law. The Attorney General’s Office has brought a series of court challenges to stop these efforts, including one resulting in a landmark legal victory that blocked the PennEast Pipeline Company from condemning state property in order to construct a new pipeline.
- Preventing rollbacks of critical environmental protections. Unfortunately, the federal government has waged a campaign to roll back necessary rules that protect New Jersey residents’ environmental and health. In response, the Attorney General’s Office has filed actions to, among other things, protect federal rules that address climate change from cars and power plants, that promote clean air, and that ensure clean water, as well as to require stronger action by EPA to reduce the ozone pollution entering New Jersey.
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